Welp, another QuakeCon is behind us, and the main items of interest came out of the annual id Software keynote; in particular, the audience question and answer session with id’s technical director John Carmack:
Question: What are your current views on the Linux situation [...]?
Answer: I can’t say I have really high hopes for it. If Quake Live does well, Mac is our next target on that, but I would not be shocked if we wind up with a Linux target on there. It’s an under served community [...] and I’m happy to see Quake Live there. It is unlikely that the big titles [Wolfenstein, Rage, Doom 4] will have anywhere near simultaneous releases. If one of the guys internally says I want to go port to Linux on my weekend or whatever, I’ll be supportive of that, but it’s not something we’re probably going to devote company resources to on there.
The bright spot for Linux on gaming might be Android, mobile space. There’s still no real sign that that’s going to take off, but if it does that could be a significant and useful thing. People wrote about the death of PC gaming, but PC has problems relative to the consoles, but all of those problems that the PC has are just an order of magnitude worse on the Linux space. So it’s not really a good target.
Every year or so somebody comes up with or plans some Linux-based set-top box that has gaming features, and it never really amounts to anything, and I don’t see any conditions that are going to be forcing that to change in the future. There are certainly aspects of it that I would like, there’s Linux on my flight computer, it’s a good tool for a lot of things. And it might make a useful tool, more so than being Linux, there’s nothing that I think Linux would bring to a console operating system, but there is something that open source would bring to it: those two days that I spent frustrated about my deadlock against Microsoft’s video codec on there I’m sure could’ve been solved much more rapidly if all of it was actually completely open. But there’s nothing that really bothers me about Microsoft or some of these operating system levels there; they’re done competently. Linux would probably bring more trouble than benefits to those things. If the world changed and there was a huge uptake of Linux on PC’s all over the place, it’d be nice, I wish the platform well, but it’s not even on our radar right now for our current projects.
Carmack also reiterated that the current plan is to open source Doom 3‘s engine sometime next year; and they will continue the practice unless something unusual happens, like id losing a patent troll’s lawsuit based on released code.
What we can’t do is we can’t take time away from [other projects]… it does take effort to get these things together. If we are still heads down trying to get Rage out the door, I’m not going to task somebody with putting together the Doom 3 source distribution. But when Rage ships, you can expect the Doom 3 source code to be coming out.